The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

13. After Dis/enchantment: The Profanity of the Human Sciences

The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

Stuart McWilliams [+-]
Åbo Akademi University
Stuart McWilliams teaches English Literature at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Previously, he was a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. His research interests include literary medievalism and the critical history of enchantment. He is the author of the monograph Magical Thinking: History, Possibility and the Idea of the Occult (Bloomsbury, 2013).

Description

The sponsoring teleologies of the historiography of magic have tended to affirm a Weberian Entzauberung at modernity’s core. Some scholars have portrayed this as a necessary and inevitable evolutionary step, while others have lamented the apparent passing of an enchanted premodernity. Many in the arts and humanities, uneasy with triumphalist (and ethnocentric) narratives of progress, have found themselves in a position of “advocacy” for premodern enchantment, whether in a spirit of ethnographic sensitivity or of confessional enthusiasm. This has helped solidify the “two cultures” problem, famously identified by C. P. Snow as one of the principal industrial conditions of contemporary scholarship. If the natural sciences are sincerely believed to “unweave [the] rainbow” (as John Keats has it), the humanities become counter-positioned on the Romantic side of the dispute, attempting either to re-enchant the world or, perhaps (following this volume), to recognize the latent enchantments of which it has never really been divested. This chapter contends that the humanities are bound neither to enchant nor disenchant, but rather to act against reduction. While metaphysical scientism (or, indeed, Heidegger’s “technicity”) certainly includes forms of reductivism against which the humanities might argue, it is equally possible for narratives of enchantment and sacrality to be implicated in reductive frameworks of knowing. The humanist, then, is in the delicate position of putting things, texts and ideas beyond technical and commercial utility, while also rendering intelligible and interpretable that which is habitually presented as self-same and absolute, from sacred texts to capital itself.

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Citation

McWilliams, Stuart. 13. After Dis/enchantment: The Profanity of the Human Sciences. The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 251-266 Dec 2016. ISBN 9781781794753. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30133. Date accessed: 21 Nov 2017 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30133. Dec 2016

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